Oosthuizen ready for third attempt at Masters

Louis Oosthuizen is not superstitious, but he goes into the Masters this week really hoping that it will be third time lucky for him.

He missed the cut in his debut at Augusta National in 2009, and again last year, but winning his first major with a stunning seven-stroke margin in last year’s Open Championship has transformed him.

“Going into a tournament, confidence and everything is a lot higher,” he said at a press conference ahead of the Masters. “Especially in the majors. And you know, it just showed me that I can win a major and that I can compete in big tournaments and things like that.”

And now that he’s healthy again after fighting an infection for two weeks – he had to withdraw from the Honda Classic – he’s happy that he’s ready for the challenges posed by an event in which the only South Africans to have won are Gary Player and Trevor Immelman.

Player was the first non-US player to win the Masters in 1961, and he donned the green jacket twice more in 1974 and 1978. Immelman’s victory came in 2008.

Oosthuizen has absorbed lessons from both of those players, too. He rates his 2009 practice round with them as his most valuable ever around Augusta National: “When I played with Trevor and Gary Player, that was really nice.

“Getting both of them – Trevor who won it just the other day, and Gary who won it ages ago – just to see the difference in course management and around the course was really nice.

“I mean, it was amazing how similar that both of them are course management-wise when they get to the greens. It was just nice getting any information from past champions around this course,” he added.

And he’s learned to give himself realistic chances on the greens from those two players. “It’s a second-shot golf course really. It all goes where you leave yourself, what type of birdie putt you leave yourself.

“You can get some slippery ones here. So you might have putts that you know you are not going to get it within six or eight foot and you have to get your head around that and know you’re going to have a longish putt for par. I think that’s the main thing here; that you just need to know that you are going to have quite a few difficult putts.

“You know, you’ve got to get yourself in the right spots on those greens,” he said.

He’s also going to make sure he does the right thing in Wednesday’s par-three contest – no winner of that low-key contest has ever gone on to win the Masters, and Oosthuizen won it last year.

“I don’t like to believe in things like that but it happens all the time,” he said. “I’m definitely playing again. My little girl is going to walk with, so I’ll probably try and get her to kick the ball or something so that my score doesn’t count.”

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